Sushi and Trouble


LEMON BUTTA. Willowbridge Mall, Tyger Valley.

The N1 highway is no place to be overcome by a craving for sushi. Well, not if you are in the vicinity of the Boerewors Curtain of Bellville and Durbanville that is.

This I should have known. Most residents of this area would not know the difference between blue-fin toro sashimi and a Glenryck pilchard.

But the craving was there, plus a desire to see my friend Maxi Padde, who resides in that part of the world. “Check you at Lemon Butta,” she said over the phone before dashing off to wax her arm-pits and gloss her lips.

Lemon Butta is a restaurant at Willowbridge, one of the more un-mallish malls in Cape Town’s Northern Suburbs (Boerewors Curtain). It is next to the Tyger Valley Centre, and is known as “trendy” Although in the Boerewors Curtain, trendy is used when Kurt Darren changes into a new pair of Crocs.

Maxi was waiting for me, looking very pleased with herself at having procured a table in Lemon Butta for Friday lunch. It is large space, the roomy interior spilling out onto a veranda. The place was buzzing with lunch-time patrons, of which most of the men had already looked in my direction. These things happen to a guy who is lucky enough to be in the company of a well-titted woman, which Maxi is.

In any event, I was here for sushi. A couple of ubiquitous Asian chaps in uniform were slaving away behind the sushi counter, although I couldn’t tell whether any of them had spent the required seven years looking at knives and cleaning chop sticks before being allowed to touch the rice.

The menu also has other fishy stuff ?+¦-+???+¦-ú?-¦?+¦-ú?+¦+¦ tempura, stir-fries, prawns, oysters, langoustines, as well as steak and chicken. Maxi told me “the salmon roses are the best in town”, which was nice of her.

I ordered a sushi platter, while Maxi had six salmon roses. The wine-list was so-so, and I ordered a Thelema Sauvignon Blanc 2008.

Maxi was busy telling me some inside details of her French rugby-player boyfriend’s obsession with sticky bandage, when the waiter brought the sushi. This was after all of 10 minutes since the order, and an obvious sign that the stuff had been pre-rolled and pre-cut, instead of being made on order.

Not a good sign, I thought. “Yummy!” said Maxi.

Looking at my sushi platter I cursed the Americans. Did they have to nuke Nagasaki and Hiroshima? Couldn’t they have let the Japs emerge from the war with some international clout? Like the authority of ensuring that any place that serves sushi of the standard found at Lemon Butta will have its owner and sushi chefs lined up on the parking lot and forced to commit hara kiri with blunt Swizz Army knives?

The platter at Lemon Butta was low quality cat food, just slightly better looking.

The avocado in the California rolls was brown and soggy. The sushi rice was under-vinegared, luke-warm and had the texture of hamster vomit.

Thank the lord I only had one piece of the sashimi otherwise I would by now have some strange worm-like parasites in my bowels. The tuna looked like a rugby injury ?+¦-+???+¦-ú?-¦?+¦-ú?+¦+¦ a turn on for Maxi and her other rugby groupies, but grey and bloody to the rest of us.

The white fish (yellow-tail) was about to find its way to my lips when I detected an unpleasant smell, about which I am not going to say anything more.

What I did eat, was one piece of too thickly sliced salmon sashimi slathered in enough wasabi to bring tears to the eyes of an ancient marble statue. The fish was tired, tasted muddy and also luke-warm.

Maxi had almost finished her salmon roses. I grabbed one, which was mercilessly swamped with tangy Japanese mayonnaise so as to disguise the taste of muddy salmon and sick rice.

“Are you still hungry?” Maxi said with doe-eyed concern and an appetizing heave of her breasts. “Let’s get you some tempura prawn.”

The stuff arrived with a dipping sauce even Maxi identified as Wellington’s chilli sauce. She fed me a tempura prawn which was floury, soggy and tasted of a cheap shoe-box.

Around me the locals were laughing, drinking, sucking chop sticks and giving me admirable thumbs-up looks as Maxi began to sweat.

JP Bruwer

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3 thoughts on “Sushi and Trouble

  1. Can’t agree more. Having received my Potjiekos Passport a couple of years back (unfortunately necessitated by proximity to work) I continue to be frustrated by the lack of decent restaurants out this side after being spoilt for choice.
    The so called ‘good ones’ are not a spot on southern suburbs and all seem to have the same menu.
    Lemon Butta is a shocker. My wife and I went there a few weeks back, not keen to battle the road works to get through to Willoughby’s, and in the mood for a bit of sushi.
    The pathetic waitress looked surprised when we asked a question about the menu, as if she had never seen it before. We had to re-order twice because things were not available. The food also arrived very quickly and the fact that the tempura was cold was a bit of a giveaway. Add to that the fact that our bottle of white wine was the same temperature as the soy sauce and you have a forgettable night.
    The most disappointing aspect of the experience? The fact that the place was full, and usually is.

  2. “Maxi Padde?” You’ve gotta be kidding me… since when are you dating feminine hygiene products, boet? Unfortunately I have to agree regarding the fall of standards at Lemon Butta. It was good, up to a couple of months ago (yep, right up to standard even with Willoughby, since the owners had some common interest.) Trouble is, once you start splitting your attention between a branch in Durbanville and a branch in Hermanus, and shuffle your staff between the two ventures, you’ve got trouble brewing.

    Ag well I suppose they now match the standards of most other “sushi” joints in town…

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